As a young person living in the West African country of Ghana, I felt safe and secure in my nation and could not have predicted how drastically life was about to change. Before everything went awry, COVID-19 was that distant phenomenon that everyone around me talked about but none could truly relate to. We discussed it and felt sympathy for China and the other affected nations but in our world, the virus was as remote as it could be. We knew it existed but it had no bearing on life as we knew it and it only registered itself in our consciousness when we heard about it on the news and the havoc it was wreaking. Sadly, life had other plans for us. Everything changed when the first case was recorded in the capital of Accra and by the next 48 hours, the number of cases had increased to six with the very first measure to curb the spread imposed three days after the first case. I am utterly abashed whenever I remember my initial joy when school was suspended. No one imagined the turn of events that would follow but to my super-stressed final year self, it was the short break I needed. I had a presentation for my Human Rights class that week that I was unprepared for hence I was more than happy to stay away from school for a week or two. I was not alone in my ignorance as others celebrated as well, completely forgetting that this was the very deadly virus that we had heard so much about on the news. This was the coronavirus that had killed so many people that bodies were not even given to families for burial anymore. Myths run wild yet nothing prepared us for what lay ahead. A partial lockdown was declared and that was when reality began to sink in. It exposed me to all that we had turned a blind eye to. It changed my life, touched me, inspired me, and revolutionized my thinking. It engraved in my heart the question, why do we wait for tragedy before we embrace humanity? After the lockdown was declared, I decided not to stay in the capital city of Accra where my University is located but went to stay with a cousin in Aburi, located in the mountains at a different region which had recorded no cases at the time. My flight to escape the fear and uncertainties in Accra revealed to me exactly how a shift in our perfect paradigm exposes exactly how human we are, how vulnerable we are yet how vile we can be and in the same vein, how much love we are capable of showing. School moved online and it was bedecked with assignments and equally crazy endeavors by the university to ensure that we do not cheat. The hectic life surrounding it all made it even crazier. As the cases increased, the lockdown was lifted and we all cried in outrage till I realized that, the old ones were right when they said, ‘not all fingers are equal'. Some people eat by what they earn every day thus the lockdown spelled starvation for them. When I moved back to Accra after the lockdown was lifted, I realized exactly how fragile we all are as humans. Two families who lived near me had moved back to the village because they would have starved in the city since the breadwinners were unable to go to work due to the coronavirus. A cousin who works at a real estate company lost a deal because her client whose dad died from Covid-19 suffered from so much stigma that she had to move from her neighborhood. Others also lost their jobs the minute relatives got the virus and soon, what had been the distant tragedy of a distant country had become not just our nightmare but the burden of the entire world. However, every cloud has a silver lining and this moment of fear and uncertainty brought to bear the humaneness in us as well. Where the prices of hand sanitizers shot up unreasonably due to the demand, others manufactured and distributed them for free. For me, Covid-19 brought us closer and strengthened the ties in our communities. We are still battling the virus with our cases increasing every day, but the faith in ourselves and the willingness to offer help however small keeps us all going. These few months of lockdown coupled with quarantine and the new normal of face masks has taught me a lot. Paramount among them is that life is fleeting and we must make every moment count. I would never write an essay like this again, you would never feel the way you are feeling as you read my experiences during this period again. Every moment is precariously precious and should be valued. I am done with my exams and would probably have online graduation. I never imagined that but it has happened. No one knew that Thursday in class before the suspension of schools was going to be our last time together. There was never a chance for that last hug or a proper goodbye. So I say, let's love, let's live, let's value humanity and I hope we all get to smile and laugh louder next year in better circumstances. Till then, let's be our brother's keeper and survive together.
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